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Friday, August 2, 2013

The Way, Way Back

Allison Janey Supporting Actress Meatballs Best Summer Film 2013

"This is the place where dreams are made or destroyed, depends on how you feel about working at a water park."

Owen (Sam Rockwall) is the freewheeling, charismatic owner of Water Wizz, the amusement park where 14-year old Duncan (Liam James) finds a summer job, in the coming of age story of Duncan's summer vacation with his mother, Pam (Toni Collette) and her overbearing boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell). It’s been a long time since we’ve had such a charming film about a summer vacation.

The setup is formulaic but luckily the film, written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Descendants), is done with enough skill and delicacy that the familiarity is more comforting than limiting.

The only fault? This script, featuring a wood-paneled station wagon, a Pac Man game and references to songs by REO Speedwagon, Mr. Mister and Bonnie Tyler from the Footloose soundtrack, was obviously meant as a timepiece film — but it’s set in modern times. No one has a cell phone in the movie — and the kids get busted for not “leaving notes”. Distracting? Yes. More charming for it? You’re forgiven.

Simply put: A touching, funny and smart cross between Meatballs and Little Miss Sunshine. This is way, way the best movie of the summer.

Award potential:  Lots of Golden Globe potential for Best Movie (Comedy) and Supporting Actors noms could deservedly go to both Sam Rockwall and Allison Janney, who plays an alcoholic neighbor with just the right amount of zaniness. Wild card for Oscar Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

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